MAKING IT BETTER: Are We Burying Each Other Alive? – A Clarion Call For Our Collective Consciousness

I am always struck by the numbers of comments and responses on Nigerian social media or in particular the print media on anything to do with a scandal, politics and maybe religion. They sometimes run into the hundreds and customarily after the initial few responses that actually speak to the original topic or story, the vast majority of the comments very quickly descend into political, gender, religious and ethnic bashing. It never fails!

In contrast to this, articles referring to mental health, well being and other less emotive but equally or actually even more important issues receive very little if any comments. I often wonder if this is because people don’t know what or have nothing to say about those particular topics. Is it because people are uninterested? Is it because they are afraid of the topic itself? Or is it simply because the topic of mental health and the like don’t afford people the opportunity to unleash their venom, abuse, rant, make vitriolic attacks, which seems to be the order of the day.

The way I see it, this level of communication is a veneer covering the need to satisfy whatever is within people that is unwell and needs healing. You just don’t kick someone when they are already down. It’s just not a normal natural way to be unless there is something within you that is spoilt, rotten and in pain and there is a need to inflict someone else with your own inner poison (misery loves company).

For most Nigerians unless you have been living under a rock you would have been privy to some aspect of the life and times of Tiwa Savage and Tunji Balogun, a celebrated couple in the Nigerian entertainment world. (Forgive me if this story is alien to you, hopefully the main gist or import of the article will not be lost on you).

Let me immediately confess so as not to be a hypocrite that I was hugely intrigued when I first heard about what sounded like something from a soap opera playing out between the husband and wife entertainers. I was riveted by the tweeting by the husband and equally enthralled by the on line interview granted by the wife.

However the more I watched Tiwa Savage speak, my role as a voyeur was replaced with my role as a human being, a woman, a clinician (she became a case study). I watched this woman’s body language; I listened to her words, the intonation the timber and resonance of the sounds she was making. I listened to what was not said and what she was communicating in between her actual words. I looked at the movement of her eyes, her pauses, and the movement of her hands, her tears, and the whole production. By the end of my viewing I had a very different reaction and thought process than when I had started.

My first thought which bordered on rage was towards the interviewer from Pulse publications who I thought was completely not up the task at hand and certainly lost a wonderful opportunity to explore some serious gender issues with this intelligent, savvy, clued up woman she was interviewing. I blame the newspaper that sent her. If it was meant to be a scoop it was poorly executed, it was lack lustre and the interviewer was barely coherent with her ineffectual non questions. It was Savage herself who seemed to be constructing the questions to ask herself and still the interviewer was unable to take the questions or answers to any relevant conclusion.

What was even more disturbing was the complete lack of interest, lack of empathy, compassion the interviewer displayed when Savage made what were at times extreme, painful confessionals. The interview did not appear to have the hall marks of something adversarial so it appeared odd that even as an objective journalist (and I use that term advisedly), and being a woman talking to another woman who was describing some of the most traumatic experiences in her life, this interviewer appeared cynical, contemptuous and almost accusatory in her monosyllabical mutterings.

What I want to focus on even more is how we who watch, listen and take part in the decline of our humanity, can  stem the rot? Where are our tweets, comments, articles, words speaking against this? How do we go about encouraging and mobilising to encourage a different attitude; demanding a return to some type of a moral compass or creating a new positive normal? We must take ownership and responsibility in the part we all play. We have to be able to draw a line and raise our collective consciousness so we reject some of this madness we call entertainment and that we seem to be gripped by. Or are we content to proceed with the moral equivalent of burying each other alive?

I am not naive enough to think the genie can be put back into the bottle. I am aware the Pandora’s Box is open but we can see the effects of the no limits, anything goes, nothing is sacrosanct attitude…its carnage on families and our younger generation.

If we are all part of the problem, we can also be part of the solution. It is about a collective consciousness, awareness, mindfulness and a desire to see change. The same way there is mob mentality and as soon as one person starts off an abusive tweet or comment others follow suit; we can also counter all that hatred when we see it with something different (Above Whispers is a fine example of that difference), or at the very least not participate in it.

I have been overjoyed by the beautifully written articles by various contributors on this site. The speech recently posted by Dr Kayode Fayemi, ‘Crisis of Values’ was particularly powerful and uplifting. There are many other writers on Above Whispers that speak to that collective consciousness which is encouraging and makes for joyful reading.

As the deafening sounds of the haters, mischief makers and nere do wells will certainly continue to grow, the loud and Above whispers we also make must drown these sounds out ( it’s really all ‘white’ noise). We must continue to speak our truths; we must fight for a better, more wholesome world for our children. They have to know there are limits. I have two young adult daughters and they tell me all the time that in their world, social media etc, there are no limits. They tell me the majority of their friends, colleagues don’t have any boundaries. They show me the kind of things the kids say to one another on social media, they tell me of how many of their peers conduct themselves in public and I am horrified. However if the older generation are the role models these kids are meant to emulate then it’s easy to see who is bearing the brunt of our behaviour.

Something ain’t right people. This is clearly a case of ‘it is broke and needs fixin!’

May your week be full of love, grace and beauty and joy.

Gloria Ogunbadejo writes a weekly column for Punch Newspaper. She is a Psychotherapist, a life coach, a holistic counsellor and an ordained Minister


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